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Introduction of kawakawa balm benefits community and wins Workforce Innovation Award

  • Publication Date:

    27 September 2022

  • Author:

    Caitlin Dixon

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The introduction of kawakawa balm by Te Rangihaeata Oranga Trust Hawke’s Bay Gambling Harm Services has been recognised with the Addiction Workforce Innovation Award.

The trust was presented with the award at this year’s Cutting Edge Te toka tū moana in Ōtautahi Christchurch.

Will Ward, Te Pou national manager of leadership and system change, was there to present the award.

The team runs kawakawa balm wananga for tāngata whai ora which builds connection to whenua and te taiao, te ao Māori and rongoā Māori. The balm is used as a talking point for brief interventions, and a way of promoting services.

The Te Pou Addiction Workforce Innovation Award celebrates innovations in work practices that contribute to improving addiction workplace wellbeing and worker engagement.

A panel with expertise in the addiction sector and te ao Māori convened to select this year’s winner.

The trust’s general manager Vicki Bekahn said it was a proud moment for the organisation, particularly having attended Cutting Edge for the first time.

“Being a Kaupapa Māori organisation, the health promotion team were humbled by their ability to be acknowledged at a national level,” Vicki said.

The team started their journey through a wananga to learn how to make kawakawa balm.

A wide range of people use the balm which reflects the range of people in the community who the organisation connects with at events.

“The health promotion team feel pride in knowing they are offering something of immense spiritual significance to the tāngata whaiora they are working with,” Vicki said.

The whole process from harvest to creation and then giving the balm away encompasses the elements of Te Whare Tapa Whā.

Walking in the bush and connecting with the land connects to the whenua, physical movement involved in the harvest practises tinana - physical health.

For hinengaro – mental health, the pleasure and mental uplift from creating something healing reflects recovery and wellbeing.

Vicki had gratitude for having the opportunity to attend Cutting Edge.

“A big thank you to Te Pou and the Cutting Edge team – the inspiration from attending the conference was amazing due to the calibre of the others from around Aotearoa who attended and shared their work also – ka rawe”

The Workforce Innovation Award initiative has been focusing national attention on addiction treatment organisations and services engaged in best workforce practices for the past 8 years, excluding 2020.

Next year’s Cutting Edge will be held in Kirikiriroa Hamilton in March.

Workforce Innovation Award
Te Pou national manager of leadership and system change Will Ward, left, Te Rangihaeata Oranga Trust Hawke’s Bay Gambling Harm Services's Cath Healey and Vicki Berkahn.

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